A Visit to the Jim Thompson House and Museum in Bangkok, Thailand
The Jim Thompson House and Museum is one of the more popular tourist destinations in Thailand. Whenever you search online for things to do and places to visit in Bangkok, this museum is almost always part of the list. This was one of the places I explored when I was there for a tour. If you’re scheduled to fly to Bangkok and made this a part of your itinerary, here are some things you need to know and what to expect about the place.
My First Impression
When I entered the gate and main entrance, there were heaps of tourists, locals and foreigners queueing at the reception area to pay the admission fee. I paid 150 Baht, this is their rate for adults. (It is 100 Baht for students.) Near the reception area, before entering the actual house, there was a restaurant filled with tourists leisurely enjoying their meal, most obviously already done with the tour. Seen at the front of the house were trees, a lovely, well-maintained garden and ponds with colorful fishes in various sizes. Everything about the front section of the house and its surroundings is picturesque, Zen-like and peaceful.
The House and the Museum
The Jim Thompson House and Museum was founded to tell the story and show the art collection of the American businessman and architect Jim Thompson. It also showed the process of making Thai silk and depicts the establishment of the Thai Silk Company Limited in 1948.
As soon as you pay the admission fee, you will be given an option to join your preferred tour based on language. There were several tours the day I visited, and I had to wait around 15 minutes before our English tour guide instructed us to follow her. We were asked to put our belongings in designated lockers and then ushered to the garden. We were allowed to bring our cellphones and cameras to take pictures during the tour. She proceeded in telling the story of how the museum came about, led us to some old structures whilst passing by some Buddhist statues, Asian antiques and wall decors surrounded by huge flower jars. I realized the Jim Thompson house is not just a house but actually a compound of several old houses made of wood and old Thai materials. The tour guide then asked us to follow her inside the house.
Before entering the house, you will be asked to take off your shoes and turn off your cameras. Once inside the house, you will no longer be allowed to document the experience. Our house tour started with paintings in various sizes. Some were regular-sized while others were long and wide, covering a vast section of the wall. There was even one that covered a wide portion of the wall left to right and from floor to ceiling! The next rooms were filled with antiques hundreds of years old that I thought it also had some pleasantly weird, distinct smell of old age to them. From vases to kitchen wares to dining tables and chairs . . . everything was preserved and well maintained. The tour guide kept on telling stories about the antiques and how Jim Thompson collected them before he went missing in 1967.
After the house tour, we were free to get back our belongings and explore the garden and the rest of the house in the compound. The other structures also contained photos, statues and decors, and we were free to stay and take photos of the house's exterior and the garden until it closed.
Tip: When you visit, don’t forget to check on the second floor of the huge structure facing the reception area. You might be in for a surprise. During my tour, there was a free exhibit entitled “Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs” that ran for about three months.
How to go to the Jim Thompson House
The Jim Thompson House is located at Soi Kasemsan (2) Song, opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Road. It is open daily from 9 AM-6 PM with the last guided tour at 6 PM. It is accessible by car, tuktuk or by taking the BTS Sky Train to the National Stadium Station and walk a couple of blocks to Kasemsan 2 Road. That’s what I did. I just opened my GPS and followed my way to the museum.
© 2018 Sheila Navio-Pornan